Drought conditions bringing more than just dry weather, allergies are increasing too

HUNTSVILLE, Ala.-- Have an itch in your throat, or a cough that just won't go away? That might be because the drought is bringing more than just dry conditions this year. It's also causing an increase in allergies.

Huntsville Hospital Nurse Practitioner Cynthia Whitten said their allergy patients have been steadily increasing since the summer, but it's not due to typical fall allergies like they first thought.

"What we are seeing are people who are coming in and while they have allergy symptoms, it seems to be more due to dust, dirt, and possibly some molds," said Whitten.

She said when there's a decrease in rain, there's an increase in allergies thanks to all the pollen floating around.

"When we are outside we see the dust flying, we see the leaves as they're falling, we're beginning to see those kinds of allergies," she explained.

Whitten said they expect to continue to see a lot of allergy patients. And, with conditions what they are, patients are suffering a little more severely than normal.

"A lot of people's allergies are evolving into sinusitis and sinus infections," she said.

She said taking preventative measures are going to be key during this allergy season.

"When we are looking at allergy season and a drought like we are, one of the things that we don't think about when we're outside, we tend to collect dust on our clothing, and on our bodies," said Whitten.

So because of this, Whitten said it's good to bathe when you get home at night, stay in the air conditioning as much as you can, and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

If you're not sure if you are suffering from allergies, Whitten said some common symptoms are watery eyes and a dry cough that won't go away. She encourages you to recognize the symptoms and start treating them with regular, over the counter allergy medicine, and then see if a doctor if necessary.